Critique- Realm to the Rescue

The media I have chosen to critique is the Realm to the Rescue fundraising campaign. This campaign was started by the International Rescue Committee in partnership with HBO and the cast of Game of Thrones. The fundraising campaign consisted of seven videos featuring different cast members from the TV show talking about refugees and asking viewers to donate. The goal of the campaign was to raise one million dollars for the International Rescue Committee. The IRC uses these funds for humanitarian relief around the world. The focus of this particular campaign was for relief and resettlement of refugees in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, and Afghanistan. The campaign was released online just before the premiere of Game of Thrones season six and ran throughout the season. Overall, I think this campaign was successful at raising funds to help refugees; however, lacked an educational and longstanding impact.

Part of the reason this campaign was so successful was the recruitment of celebrities into humanitarian causes. With the huge fan base that Game of Thrones has worldwide, the campaign reached thousands of people. The campaign not only had videos, but also had a platform on Omaze- a company that sells experiences for critical causes. For the Realm to the Rescue campaign, Omaze advertised tickets to the Game of Thrones premiere along with other exclusive items such as replica swords, signed T shirts, etc. On this platform, the campaign was highly successful and raised $380,000 within the first three weeks. The video component consisted of short clips. The typical length was 30 seconds; however, the main trailer was 1 ½ minutes. In the short time frame, the HBO actors voiced several facts about the refugee crisis. Each actor echoes the phrase “rescue has no boundaries” and “realm to the rescue.” I think with the limited time, catchy phrases and slogans such as these probably stayed in the viewers’ mind longer. I think the biggest strength of this campaign was the enlistment of celebrities to spread the word. The refugee crisis can be a polarizing issue. There are many that have strong stances on whether or not countries should or shouldn’t further open their borders. Yet the majority that are apathetic. While the target audience for many campaigns is people who are already interested, the realm to the rescue campaign targeted a much wider demographic and carried the possibility of influencing the listless.

Despite the multitude of celebrities, the overall campaign videos had very little views. The most popular videos only had 181,000 views. This is small in comparison to the millions of Game of Thrones fans and those that watch HBO. This number initially surprised me. However, I found that the campaign was advertised solely online. If the ad had been run on HBO’s TV network the viewership would have astronomically increased. To find the video, one would have to actively seek out the International Rescue Committee’s website or Facebook page. On Facebook the video was shared 1,000 times which was beneficial to spreading the campaign, but still limited in numbers. Although the reach of the videos was smaller than expected, the campaign still managed to raise a significant amount of money. When looking into the media coverage of the campaign, the majority of articles were about the Game of the Thrones cast. Photos, tweets, quotes from the cast members were widespread, but the IRC and their mission was lacking in many cases. It is plausible that many of the donations and attention of the campaign came from celebrity outlets such as twitter, Instagram, and raffling celebrity signed goods and experiences rather than the International Rescue Committee advertisements. If the objective of the campaign was purely to raise money, then the campaign succeeded. However, if the IRC wanted to increase awareness and education surrounding the refugee crisis then the campaign failed on this front. Finding information about the refugee crisis and the actual relief the IRC was doing required more effort on their donor or viewer’s part since the clips were short. All of the video clips offered a link to donate, yet the link took the viewer to a page with only a donation option and no further information. In order to learn where and how the donation was being used, a viewer had to navigate the IRC’s official website which was not linked in the video clips.

Overall, I think the intersection between celebrities and humanitarian causes is positive and beneficial in reaching new audiences. For this particular campaign the funds raised for the IRC were successful, but the educational component and long term support was lacking.